08/02/2010 02:44 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Christ Is Anywhere There Is Need

I know what it is to be hungry. I know what it is to be thirsty. I know what it is to be a stranger. I know what it is to be naked. I know what it is to be sick. I know what it is to be in bondage. But when I'm full, quenched, welcomed, clothed, well and free, I tend to be oblivious to the memory of when I was without. I avoid even imagination of the time when I might be without again. Memory and imagination tend to avoid past and future pain when it is presently absent.

That is why we avoid looking at that which causes pain, discomfort or distress: because it hurts. And yet, those with means tend to be able to solve practical problems with a checkbook or a dollar bill. They are left with greater truths than bread and water. Truth for the hungry is bread. Meaning and purpose are luxuries for those who are dying of thirst. Water is more than a symbol to the thirsty. People of means may mean well, but are tempted to believe that all problems can be solved with a checkbook or credit card. Camels and needle eyes are images that are not as difficult to imagine as it is for one to go through the other -- presumably checkbook salvation prompted Jesus to speak of comparable ease and difficulty concerning the rich, camels and needle eyes. Needless to say, the rich my have been blind to the needle.

Theologically we are all hungry and in need, but most of us don't recognize it when we have full bellies and bank accounts. We think the empty feeling can be filled with more food. The poor, on the other hand, live under no illusions. We have much to learn from poverty. Christ is more visible in need than in plenty, for when one has plenty he assumes he doesn't need.

One doesn't have to be without money to be poor. One doesn't have to be blind in order not to see.

The Christ is anywhere there is need. He is more easily seen by those who have immediate needs. And more needed to be seen by those who have fewer needs. Each, the full and hungry, have much to give one another. God knows it's true.

If we are brave enough to look at the poor, we may be brave enough to look at ourselves where emptiness can only be filled by love and the only love strong enough to survive anything is God's love, without which we are nothing.